Sep 26, 2022  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023

Physics and Astronomy

Return to: USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences  

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers the Bachelor of Science in Physics, Bachelor of Science in Astronomy, Bachelor of Science in Physics/Computer Science, Bachelor of Arts in Physics, Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy, Bachelor of Science in Biophysics, Bachelor of Science in Physical Sciences, a minor in physics and a minor in astronomy, Master of Science in Physics, Master of Arts in Physics, Master of Science in Physical Biology, a Doctor of Philosophy in Physics and a Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Biology.

Ahmanson Center for Biological Research (ACB) 439
Main: (213) 740-0848; Undergraduate: (213) 740-1140; Graduate: (213) 740-8685
FAX: (213) 740-6653

Chair: Stephan Haas, PhD


Anna H. Bing Dean’s Chair in the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and Professor of Physics and Astronomy: Amber Miller, PhD

Dean’s Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Chemistry: Mohamed El-Naggar, PhD*

William M. Keck Chair in Engineering and Distinguished Professor of Engineering, Computer Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Physics and Astronomy: P. Daniel Dapkus, PhD (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Viterbi Professorship in Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Systems, Chemistry and Physics and Astronomy: Daniel A. Lidar, PhD (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Kenneth T. Norris Professor of Engineering Professor of Chemical Engineering and Material Science, Physics and Biomedical Engineering: Anupam Madhukar, PhD (Material Science)

Gabilan Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy: Vera Gluscevic, PhD

Professors: Itzhak Bars, PhD; Gerd Bergmann, PhD; N. Eugene Bickers, PhD*; Hans M. Bozler, PhD; Stephen Cronin, PhD (Electrical and Computer Engineering); Jack Feinberg, PhD*; Christopher M. Gould, PhD*; Martin A. Gundersen, PhD (Electrical and Computer Engineering); Stephan Haas, PhD*; Clifford Johnson, PhD*; Rajiv Kalia, PhD; Vitaly Kresin, PhD; Joseph Kunc, PhD (Aerospace Engineering); Aaron Lauda, PhD (Mathematics); Anthony J. Levi, PhD (Electrical and Computer Engineering); Jia Grace Lu, PhD; Aiichiro Nakano, PhD (Computer Science); Dennis Nemeschansky, PhD; Elena Pierpaoli, PhD; Krzysztof Pilch, PhD; Michelle Povinelli, PhD (Electrical Engineering); Oleg Prezhdo, PhD (Chemistry); Edward J. Rhodes, Jr., PhD*; Remo Rohs, PhD (Biological Sciences); Hubert Saleur, PhD; Robin Shakeshaft, PhD; Christopher Shera, PhD (Otolaryngology); Armand Tanguay, PhD (Electrical and Computer Engineering); Priya Vashishta, PhD (Materials Science); Andrey Vilesov, PhD (Chemistry); Nicholas P. Warner, PhD*; Paolo Zanardi, PhD

Associate Professors: James Boedicker, PhD; Rosa Di Felice, PhD; Christoph A. Haselwandter, PhD; Susumu Takahashi, PhD (Chemistry)

Assistant Professors: Peter Chung, PhD; Eli Levenson-Falk, PhD

Professor (Teaching): Vahe Peroomian, PhD

Professors (Research): Leonid Didkovsky, PhD; Geraldine J. Peters, PhD

Associate Professor (Research): Lorenzo Campos Venuti, PhD

Assistant Professor (Teaching): Scott Macdonald, PhD

Senior Lecturer: Douglas Burke, PhD (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Lecturer: Christopher Sutherland, PhD

Emeritus: Lloyd Armstrong Jr., PhD (Education); Tu-Nan Chang, PhD; Werner Däppen, PhD; Melvin A. Daybell, PhD; Robert W. Hellwarth, PhD (Electrical Engineering); Richard S. Thompson, PhD; William G. Wagner, PhD; Chung-Yung (Robert) Wu, PhD

*Recipient of university-wide or college teaching award.

Undergraduate Degrees

Grade Point Average in Major Subject

A GPA of C (2.0) or higher is required in all upper-division courses taken in the department for all of the above major degree programs. A grade of C (2.0) or higher is required in all courses in the department specifically listed as subject requirements.


Advisement is required for all BS and BA degree candidates in the department. Students should meet with their departmental academic adviser at least once a semester to review the direction of their academic programs. Students who have not met with an adviser should contact the director of undergraduate affairs. Students are also encouraged to seek the advisement of faculty members whose specializations are appropriate to their intended field of graduate study.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities

Students are encouraged to become familiar with the research programs of the faculty in the department. Students who intend to pursue a PhD and a career in research in physics or astronomy following graduation are strongly encouraged to become involved directly in one of the research programs, whether as summer research assistants or as part-time laboratory assistants during the academic year. Specific research opportunities will depend upon individual faculty research programs.

Graduate Degrees

The Department of Physics and Astronomy offers graduate study at the master’s and doctoral degree levels. The graduate program prepares students for professional careers in research, teaching and developmental applications of physics.

Entering students spend time in intensive course work providing a broad background in advanced physics regardless of degree objective. Subsequent study involves a mix of course work, practical training and independent research (depending on degree objective). The doctoral program affords exceptionally close collaboration between students and faculty.

Research Areas: Experimental, Theoretical and Computational

Opportunities for research are offered in atomic, molecular and optical/laser physics, astrophysics, biological physics, elementary particle theory, string theory, quantum field theory, earthquake physics, helioseismology, condensed matter physics, quantum electronics/nonlinear optics, space physics and ultralow temperature physics.

Degree Requirements

Graduate degrees in the Department of Physics and Astronomy are under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation  section and The Graduate School  section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degrees must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Graduate study in physics is divided into these degree objectives:

  • Master of Science and Master of Arts in Physics
  • Master of Science in Physical Biology
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Physics
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Physical Biology


    Bachelor’s DegreeMinorMaster’s DegreeDoctoral Degree